City mulling bike sharing program


Beach cruisers are already a common sight around campus, but a new initiative proposed by a member of the city council could make bikes a common sight all around the city.

For rent · The city’s proposed bike sharing program could allow students to rent bikes to use around campus and around Los Angeles. - Courtney Sandlin | Daily Trojan

The Los Angeles City Council and the Metropolitan Transit Authority are working on developing a bike-sharing program that would focus on USC and several other locations. The program’s aim is to provide L.A. residents with another option for transportation beyond driving.

“We’re looking at the ‘first mile-last mile’ dilemma in L.A.,” said Cris Liban, the Environmental Compliance and Services Department manager at MTA. “[That] first mile to get on a bus stop and last mile where people need to go from the bus — it’s causing problems.”

The program was first proposed by the MTA in 2008 but was put on the back burner because of a lack of funding. Now, City Councilwoman Jan Perry has brought the issue back into the spotlight, and the city’s Transportation Committee is looking into bike-sharing opportunities.

“I’m looking at the model from Paris, and some other models,” Perry said. “To me, the model that may work best is very similar to the ZipCar [at USC]; something without a lot of infrastructure and downtime.”

So far, Liban said, the idea has been a hard sell among potential advertisers.

“From some of the discussions we’ve had with advertisers, they’re not really warm and fuzzy about having it [in L.A.],” Liban said.

Perry said she has discussed the possibility of running the program on a smaller scale as a more attractive option to investors.

“Maybe just [implement the program] in the 9th District to start, and we’ll show the rest of the city what we can do,” Perry said. “For some people the bicycle is a primary mode of transportation, so it gives us an opportunity here.”

A similar program is already in place at the UC Irvine. There, a bike-sharing program called ZotWheels allows students to rent bikes for up to three hours. The program charges a $40 annual fee for unlimited use.

“We set out to create another alternative mode of transportation for students, faculty and staff,” said Lynn Harris, a planning and project manager at UCI Parking and Transportation. “All of our campuses are trying to reduce emissions and traffic.”

Harris cited exercise and time-saving opportunities as other benefits of bike sharing, in addition to sustainability.

MTA plans to talk with the city’s Transportation Committee about possible stations in urban areas such as USC, Downtown, Koreatown and Hollywood.

“Will this work in L.A.?” Liban said. “We don’t know.”

Though plans for the program are still very tentative, some students said they would welcome a bike-sharing initiative near campus.

“I think the program is a great idea, it’s been done in a couple [of] other cities, and I know it’s been successful,” said Emily Smith, a senior majoring in business administration-cinema television. “L.A. has major transportation problems, so it could help out.”